October 04, 2018

The Saint Louis Zoo is home to the 17,000-square-foot Endangered Species Research Center & Veterinary Hospital. Under the leadership of Dr. Luis Padilla, Director of Animal Health, the veterinary staff is comprised of two staff veterinarians, a veterinary resident, four veterinary nurses, a veterinary pathologist and two quarantine staff. The veterinary team provides wellness, medical and surgical services, and emergency care to the Zoo’s animals. The hospital has areas dedicated to treatment, radiology, surgery, pathology and quarantine. Recently our veterinary staff took over our Facebook feed for a special #VetTakeOver. We have compiled those posts below for a special inside look at the #StlZooVetHospital.

Welcome Copper

The Saint Louis Zoo recently welcomed Copper, a female capybara, to her new home in River’s Edge. Before being moved to her new habitat, Copper received an exam by Veterinary Resident Dr. Laura Kleinschmidt. New animals to the Zoo spend around 30 days in the quarantine wing of the Veterinary Hospital as part of a risk assessment that ensures their health and welfare. Dr. Kleinschmidt performed an exam under anesthesia, including drawing blood for testing and giving her subcutaneous fluids to help with her anesthetic recovery. The next time you are at the Zoo, be sure to walk down the River’s Edge trail and say hello to Copper! 

New Baby Goats

The quarantine staff is preparing bottles for our new baby goats. New animals may be quarantined for 30 days and tested to make sure they are free from viruses, parasites or other diseases that could be transmitted to the other animals at the Zoo. After the 30 days is over, the baby goats headed over to their new home at the Children’s Zoo, where they joined the resident goat family. Come by the Children’s Zoo and say hello to our newest additions.

Tawny Frogmouth

This past spring, Veterinary Resident Dr. Laura Kleinschmidt performed a pre-shipment examination on two tawny frogmouth birds before they made the trip to live at another zoo. Animals leaving the Saint Louis Zoo are examined by the medical staff to make sure they are healthy before traveling to their new home. The physical included examining the entire body, listening to the heart and lungs, collecting blood, and placing a microchip. Native to Australia and Tasmania, these amazing birds were born here at the Saint Louis Zoo almost a year ago. Tawny frogmouth are named for their wide mouths, which are used to catch their prey, including frogs. 

Rhinoceros Hornbill Examination

Similar to the examination Veterinary Resident Dr. Laura Kleinschmidt performed on the tawny frogmouths, Dr. Chris Hanley, Associate Veterinarian, examined two rhinoceros hornbills before they travelled to a new home at another zoo. The birds received a full body physical exam, including listening to the heart and lungs, and collecting blood. These beautiful birds are a little over a year old and are native to Southeast Asia. The bird staff are highly trained to handle the birds with care, and they ensure the birds do not injure themselves or the staff.#VetTakeover #StlZooVetHospital

Neonate Exam

Since 1963, over 200 Speke’s gazelles have been born at the Saint Louis Zoo. Recently, Dr. Luis Padilla, Director of Animal Health, performed a neonatal exam on one of the newest Speke’s gazelles born here. Many newborns are examined within 24-hr after birth to ensure their health and wellbeing, and to make sure they have been nursing adequately. During the examination, Dr. Padilla listened to the heart and lungs, checked the body temperature, and collected a small blood sample for analysis. Dr. Padilla also cleaned the newborn’s umbilicus using gauze with an antiseptic. Speke’s gazelles are an endangered species, and each birth here is significant to the conservation of these small gazelles. This Speke’s gazelle has been named Titus and can be found at the Antelope House with his mom. 

Sloth Examination

Veterinary Resident Dr. Laura Kleinschmidt and Veterinary Technician Jane Merkel are performing a routine wellness examination on our sloth, Camden. They are performing a full physical exam, collecting blood, taking radiographs and trimming his claws. Proactive wellness exams ensure the best quality medical care. Come say hello to Camden at the Children’s Zoo. 

Chimpanzee Procedure 

Rosebud, a 48-year-old female chimpanzee, visited the Veterinary Hospital to have a swollen left ankle evaluated. Over the past few months, Rosebud’s ankle would intermittently swell. While under anesthesia, our animal care staff took the opportunity to perform a full-body examination, including radiographs, blood collection and a cardiac evaluation by Dr. Cecilia Marshall, a veterinary cardiologist.

Great apes, like humans, can develop cardiac changes over their lifetimes, and early detection is important to ensure their well-being. Dr. Marshall’s evaluation did not reveal any significant changes to Rosebud’s heart.

After the exam, it was determined that Rosebud may have had an old injury to her ankle. Veterinarians cleaned and treated the site. Rosebud was then transported back to her home at Jungle of the Apes, where she woke up in a familiar setting. She will be treated with antibiotics and pain medications for the ankle until healed.

Orangutan Evaluation

Our veterinary staff saw another resident of Jungle of the Apes; this time it was Cinta, a 14-year-old Sumatran orangutan. Cinta was examined at the Veterinary Hospital due to intermittently loose stools seen over the past few months. Dr. Jeff Kreikemeier, a human gastroenterologist, performed a colonoscopy to identify the cause. Although the internal lining appeared normal, biopsies were taken to be evaluated on a microscopic level. Based on those results, Cinta’s care team will decide if he may benefit from medications or dietary adjustments. While under anesthesia, we took the time to perform a full-body evaluation of Cinta. He received a cardiac evaluation, radiographs, ultrasound, blood collection, colonoscopy and vaccines. Our veterinary team collaborates with many human and veterinary professionals to help provide the best medical attention for each of our patients. Dr. Cecilia Marshall, a veterinary cardiologist, performed an echocardiogram, a technique to assess the structure of the heart muscle and its function. Great apes, like humans, can develop cardiac changes over their lifetime. Cinta’s heart is normal for an orangutan, and continued monitoring of his cardiovascular health is important to ensure a long, happy life.

Snow Leopard Dental Exam

During a recent exam performed on snow leopard Igor, the veterinary staff identified changes in two of his canine teeth. Although he was not affected by this, it was important to further assess and treat these to avoid future problems. Dr. Pierre Tung, a veterinarian with expertise in dentistry, assisted Staff Veterinarian Dr. Shannon Cerveny. Dr. Tung performed a full dental examination, including dental radiographs. A root canal was performed on a recently fractured canine tooth, and a previous root canal site was repaired on the second canine. Routine dental care for our animals is crucial in preventing dental disease and maintaining the high health standards we have at the Saint Louis Zoo. Igor has recovered nicely. Come see Igor’s beautiful smile at Big Cat Country!